Self-taught drummer grooves into rock bands

August 05, 2011|By TAYLOR ECKEL |
  • Phil DiMercurio has been playing the drums since he was 10 years old.
Submitted photo

Phil DiMercurio, 14, loves the drums.

"Every time I listen to music all I can think about is what the drums are doing," he said.

 "I've had an interest in drums since I was very little — for as long as I can remember," Phil said. "They're loud and it's kinda a thing that catches people's attention and I like the attention."

Phil, the son of Salvatore and Jean DiMercurio of Hagerstown, has taken private lessons, played in several bands, and participated in camps run by the Cumberland Valley School of Music in Chambersburg, Pa.

Phil said he taught himself to play on a small electric drum kit when he was 10 years old.

"He would take that thing with him wherever we went and would drive us crazy," said mom Jean DiMercurio.

She said Phil begged for a full drum set, but she and her husband were hesitant to make the investment when they weren't sure if he would remain interested in playing.

Phil said he played on full-sized drum sets at his neighbor's house and at his cousin's house until he was 11, when his parents bought the neighbor's drum set for him as a Christmas gift.

"We bought him a second- hand drum set, and his sisters painted it in a cow pattern because that was his favorite animal at the time," Jean DiMercurio said.

"I played that set for a long, long time and it started to fall apart on me (so) I saved up my money to get a new set," Phil said.

Phil has been taking lessons for about two years, but said he was initially self taught.

"He took to it right away," Jean DiMercurio said.

"I just did what I thought sounded good. I think it came pretty naturally," he said. "I had played the small electric drum kit for so long that when I started playing the real one I was ready for it."

DiMercurio said she is now convinced that Phil will continue to play the drums for many years.

"I know that he loves it, so I know we didn't make a mistake, except for the noise," she said.

Phil said he has played with his father's band, the Renaissance Men and with two bands through the Hagerstown Rock School.

"Sometimes he would fill in for their adult drummer, and he loved it," Jean DiMercurio said. "He was young, like around 12, when he played with them."

The Renaissance Men played light rock and some other genres and at several different venues including Beaver Creek Country Club and area restaurants.

The Renaissance Men no longer play together, but Phil said he and his dad still play together frequently.

"We've played together for a long time. It's great playing with him (because) we can play whatever we want," he said.

Phil said he and three other Rock School students formed a band, Better Late Than Never, and they played at Cancun Cantina for the Rock School's concert.

"We try to make our own songs but mostly we play other people's music," he said. Better Late Than Never plays predominately rock music.

Although Better Late Than Never mostly plays covers, Phil said he enjoys composing music on the piano and he hopes to one day make a career out of playing the drums.

"I make stuff up," he said, and added, "I've written songs before on (the piano) and then I put drums in it and it sounds great."

This year, Phil will begin his freshman year at St. Maria Goretti High School, but he plans to remain involved in music

"I will be playing in the Goretti rock band, and hopefully keep up with Better Late Than Never," he said.

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